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Saturday, 25 October 2014

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Final rallying cry ahead of Cumbria parking charges decision

A final rallying cry has been issued for people to support a campaign to keep Cumbria’s on-street parking free.

Today is the last chance to sign one of a number of petitions launched around the county fighting to force Cumbria County Council to ditch plans to introduce on-street parking.

The county council’s cabinet will meet tomorrow with a recommendation that they approve plans that were agreed in February.

Campaigners have been calling on the county to do a U-turn on the plans, saying they will kill off trade in high streets. The charges are proposed for 11 locations, including Carlisle, Penrith, Workington, Keswick, Cockermouth and Whitehaven.

Julia Clifford, who runs the female-only gym Curves on Corporation Road, Carlisle, started a petition in her gym and on her Facebook page and in just over one month has gathered around 800 signatures.

She urged people one last time to sign up.

“Until people stand together then nothing is going to change,” she said. “By law with 10,000 signatures, and there’s a lot more people than that in Carlisle, central government and the local council have to listen. It is so simple for people to sign. If people are prepared to fight for what they believe in then we can make a difference.

“I wrote to Eric Pickles and he basically said the local council has to consult with businesses and the people. This is what we are upset about, the council trying to hide it within a budget. It is unethical.”

In west Cumbria the battle was taken up by former soldier Eddy Wilson, 59, of Gillgarran, near Workington. He launched a petition on the county council’s website and is urging people to get behind the wider campaign before it is too late.

“If people do get behind this final push then it can help them to change their minds on introducing a policy that is illegal. If the councillors can read and understand things they should be reversing the decision. I and others are living in hope,” he said.

“The charges will have a big impact on people, for example if someone had to take their children to a school that ended up in one of these zones and had to park twice a day for the 190-odd days there are there, it works out at about £570.”

Another popular petition has also been launched by the Carlisle City Centre Business Group. The county council says the charges will go ahead despite opposition, which includes the News & Star’s Keep Our Streets Free campaign.

Keith Little, the county councillor responsible for highways and transport, said: “On-street charging and getting residents to pay for their permits must begin in locations across the county this year.

“The council has agreed to the principle of charging. It is the only effective and sustainable solution to help the council provide effective traffic management services over the coming years. If done correctly and sensitively, it can have a beneficial effect in freeing up the county’s most congested parking areas and encouraging drivers to pop and shop in town centres and keep traffic flowing.”

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